Don’t we all just love a good gossip session? I mean have you heard that “you know who” has been doing “you know what” with “what’s their name”? And did you know that “so & so” is secretly “blah blah blah”. We love our tidbits and inside tracks don’t we? Unless of course they have to do with us, then it’s not so juicy.
We don’t like it when it’s about us because nine times out of ten, someone got the facts wrong or used the right information to convey a totally wrong thought or used it to create a simplified version of who you are. I know that a whole lot of people are talking about me right now. I know that some of it is great. There are some people who are saying some really nice things about me. But there are some people who most definitely are not.
I walked into a show the other night and I looked good. I knew I looked good. Almost everyone that night had a comment about how good I looked. When I first walked in, I saw a casual friend who was chatting with some fellas. I ordered a drink and one of the men bought it for me and then started flirting a little. I was flattered. It was sweet. He was handsome. I spotted some other friends a few bar stools down and went over to say hello. As I walked a few feet away, I heard the flirty man ask my acquaintance “Damn! Who is that?” I felt my face flush and I got tickled by it. It made me feel good. I wasn’t expecting the answer though. “She’s a photographer, but she used to be really fucking fat.” And then he laughed.
Whoa!!!! That’s it. That’s my life story summed up to a stranger in a bar. I’m a photographer who used to be really fucking fat. The flirty guy never spoke to me or looked my direction for the rest of the night. Um, dude, reality check: I’m not really fucking fat anymore. I’m sure there are all kinds of things that you “used to be” that don’t have shit all to do with who you are now.
It’s shit like that, that makes part of this journey so hard. You set out to really work on yourself. Your intent is to become a better person. You work hard, you make sacrifices, you break patterns and change habits and pay a therapist good fucking money to help you deal with some really painful shit and when it is all said and done, some veritable stranger thinks they can sum up your life with one shitty sentence that makes you sound weak and worthless.
The most frustrating part is that his sentence is true. Its not like I can deny it. But that is only a fraction of the story and it hardly conveys the real answer to his question. I am so much more than that. I have done so much more than that. And yeah, I know, we live in a society that shames the fuck out of anyone who isn’t Photoshop perfect. Trust me, I know better than anyone. But is the simple idea that someone “used to be” something so bad that they forever get stuffed in that societal box?
I know that we love to say, “A leopard can’t change its spots”, and it can’t. But we are not leopards, we are humans and we all change and evolve. There are friends in my life that I have known over thirty years and I can tell you that not one of them is the same person they were thirty years ago. Are you the same person you were thirty years ago? How about even two years ago? I bet the answer to that is a resounding “No!” I’m no different than you; you can just see my change when I walk in a room. I have to dig around to see your skeletons.
Christ on a stick already, give people a break and let them evolve. Stop judging them and making assumptions about who they are if you haven’t taken the time to talk to them and find out for yourself what the real story is.
I know that there is a ton of gossip about me going around. I hear it. You think I don’t, but I do. My job is to be observant; I never really get out of that place. I notice everything and I take in everything around me. I know you are talking shit about me and it’s cool. Sometimes I don’t even have to be observant. Sometimes, like the other night, I’m four fucking feet away and can hear you. Some of you get drunk or brave and come right up and say it to my face or let me know that someone else did the shit talking. It’s fine. I get it. But I am absolutely aware that it is happening.
There is a part of me that loves the attention I get right now. There is a part of me that loves it when people come up to me to tell me I look good. I know I do and I worked hard for it. I take pride in it. But there is a part of it that makes me very uncomfortable. There are nights when I walk out the door and feel fucking great about myself and by the time I get home, I want to go into hiding and not leave again for days. And it’s not the people telling me I look great, it’s the seeing them go into a corner after they walk away and whisper to their friends. I know what they are saying. I see the eyes careen back across the room at me. I see the OMG expressions and then the full body eye scan. It’s that shit that is the hard part for me.
All I want to do is be able to walk around this planet as I am in this moment. I don’t want to be judged on my past mistakes, relationships, or eating habits. I don’t think that I am any different from you in that way.
I know that part of my struggle is that all of the social-ness is new for me. For as much as I have been out there since I got to Nashville, I have only recently really been “out there”. That alone gets people talking. I know that I am navigating new territory and that I tend to be more of an emotional person than a logical one sometimes, especially when it comes to my ego. And I know that none of that makes any of this any easier.
They say that in life, if you look around you, the people that you spend the most time with are a reflection of who you are at that given point. If that is true, it makes sense because some of the people I spend the most time with are going through similar situations.
One person is relatively new to town, but they are kicking down doors like no ones business. They work their ass off and are breaking down their own stereotypes and completely reinventing themselves, their life and their art. There is plenty of buzz about this person right now. Some of it is spot on and some of it is utter bullshit. They struggle with it. We talk about it. I understand their frustration and I admire them greatly.
Another is going through their own reinvention. They also work their ass off and are striving to create good art and live a meaningful life. I respect them in way that I don’t respect many. There are a lot of people who have a whole lot to say about this person right now and lots of it has nothing to do with those qualities. Their social status is going through a change so they are dealing with a unique set of struggles that come with that. It’s frustrating for them sometimes and frustrating as their friend to watch.
And quite frankly, this isn’t the only friend I have had who has gone through adjustment periods as their lives and careers have changed. You want to know why when people meet their heroes they get disappointed because that person turns out to be an asshole? It happens because as they succeed and work hard to build something for themselves, people begin to use them, exploit them and take advantage of them. Sycophants attach themselves for the wrong reasons and gossip runs rampant and insecure people who need to be at the center of anything cool that is happening manipulate their way in. For the person doing the work, they get disappointed and hurt over and over again. That shit is painful and makes them feel lonely. Its no secret that I have a few close friends who have had at least some small amount of fame and I have seen all of them struggle with that part of it.
These people are artists, I am an artist. We tend to lean a little more toward the sensitive side. We are hard on ourselves already. We make things and then ask the world to buy it. That is not an easy job, I don’t care what you think. It’s vulnerable and exposes parts of us that we wouldn’t normally expose. When you get hurt like that, you start to shut down a little and you build walls to protect yourself. I am working really hard on tearing down my old walls, but as they come down, there are some new ones forming that I’m struggling not to build.
I know that rumors will happen, I know that gossip will happen. It’s human nature and lord knows that I have had my fair share of shit talking sessions but I hope that when I walk away I don’t just assume the worst or take any of it at face value. I know that I won’t know the whole story unless I actually engage that person and get to know them.
I also know that most of the shit talking and gossip has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the people doing the talking. I know that there are people who talk shit about me for no other reason than there is something about their life that makes them unhappy so it makes them mad to see me and think that my life is now somehow better than theirs. They want to think that I just got lucky or took the easy way out or that I didn’t work for it. Let me assure you, that I did work for it. I went through hell to be where I am today. And I’m sure that for some of you, hearing that will just piss you off even further. It’s ok. I understand. I’ve been there.
I’m trying really hard to just let people be who they are. Its not my job to change them or make them into something they aren’t. I can’t make them feel how they don’t or think how they don’t or make them do anything. All I can do is appreciate them for who they are right now. I’m also trying very hard to stop defining people based on what I think or what I have heard. The two people I mention in this blog have helped me with that. My own perceptions of them changed because I took the time to get to know them. It was a great lesson for me. It lets me accept them for who they are in this moment. I don’t judge them on the past or assume that they will follow any pre existing path in the future.
I am not the person I was two years ago. They aren’t the people they were two years ago and none of us will ever be those people again. I’m trying to see that in everyone, even people I don’t know that well. I’ve said it before and I will say it again. If you give people half a chance, they will surprise and enchant the shit out of you.
There are plenty of people who make me feel nothing but absolutely great. I have had some of the nicest notes, emails, coffee dates and conversations from people who genuinely took the time to read through all the bullshit and who accept me as I am in exactly this moment. And besides the ones who tell me in person, I hear the good rumors too. Yes, there are good rumors. I don’t want to leave those people out. Those people make the other shit bearable. I want to be one of those people. I want to talk the right kind of shit.
I am defined by a lot of things in my life, but I can’t be summed up in one sentence or by some simple definition that you think represents who I am any more than you can. I am certainly not defined by the weakest moments in my life. I am defined by who I am right this fucking minute and nothing else. So yeah, I am a photographer that used to be really fucking fat. But I am also a photographer who has literally worked her ass off to be a version of myself that I never thought possible when I was just soooo fucking fat that according to you, makes nothing else even matter. Let me tell you now, so that we can set the record straight. It is not that fact that matters, it is everything else that brought me to this place that matters.
I see old photos of myself and I feel like I am literally looking at a stranger. I lived in that body, I lived that life, but I have no idea who that person is. I can’t even fathom being her anymore. I don’t live there anymore. I don’t feel there anymore. I will never forget that time, but who I was then is irrelevant and forgotten. I will never be that person or live in that body again. Who I am now is all that matters to me and is all that should matter to you.
Where I was is not the story. How I got here is the story. In there is where you’ll find your gossip. It will be all the shit talking you need. If you want the ugly details, come talk to me. Get to know me. If you are able to gain any trust from me at all, I will tell you. I can give you some really juicy shit to spread around if you need to do that in order to feel better about yourself. But I promise you this. It won’t be the story you think it is. And I am most assuredly not the person you think I am based on what you’ve heard.